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Frank Turner knows commercial banking. With a long familial banking history, his father, grandfather, and his great grandfather were all bankers, Frank started with Mercantile in 1978 and remained when the bank was purchased by PNC. Frank joined Howard Bank in February 2013, when President and CEO, Mary Ann Scully invited him to join the Howard team.

“Mary Ann is such an inspiring leader and an extraordinary banker. Having spent my career in Baltimore banking and the commercial side of banking, with Mary Ann’s visions and the decision to focus on greater Baltimore, it was a good fit,” says Frank.Frank Turner

Commercial banking involves advice and relationships, and Frank is happy to join a team that is focusing on that. Frank notes that this attention is key. “Howard Bank’s focus on small and medium sized businesses in the greater Baltimore area advocates relationship building and maintaining. The only way to help a business work through a tough situation or take advantage of an opportunity is by having that relationship. At Howard Bank, our management team knows our borrowers.”

And the borrowers know their bankers. The senior management team meets with the management of the company. This consistency at the account level all the way to the management level keeps the Howard Bank team focused on their borrowers. This is the heart of Howard Bank, and this relationship focus is the differentiator for Howard Bank.

Frank observes, “Mary Ann has assembled a wonderful team of experienced bankers from different backgrounds and banking environments, but the whole team is focused on small to medium sized businesses. And providing banking services to those businesses. We’re a small bank with people that have had long and deep experience in commercial banking. And as we grow we continue to attract talented people.”

With Frank’s lengthy history in banking, he has seen changes in the industry over the years. Consolidation has been a major one. The number of banks has shrunk dramatically, for various reasons, but that loss means existing banks need to be much more focused. Howard Bank is uniquely focused in the commercial space. “We’re small enough to do it, but big enough to have the technology, and also the capability and lending limits to provide credit in the space and grow with the client,” says Frank.

Some of Frank’s favorite memories from Mercantile days underscore the culture of trust that existed there, and that now exists at Howard Bank. Notes Frank, “The relationship banking – that was what everyone remembers about Mercantile. That’s how Mercantile made their reputation.”

While much has changed in banking, there is much that remains the same. Although technology has changed the way clients interact with the bank, think mobile deposits and online banking, at the end of the day, decision-making about extending credit and providing service is people and relationship based. You can’t have a robot provide these relationships. Everyone is different. Each situation is unique. And a lot of it is evaluating the management of the small and medium sized companies that Howard Bank serves.

Regarding the future Frank says, “Mary Ann’s assessment of the marketplace and the need, and given what this management team has accomplished so far, the future looks bright.”

As technology advances, you can be sure that identity thieves are not far behind. Here are some common methods cyberthieves use to steal your personal information and how you can increase your security while shopping or banking.

Phishing/vishing

Your email messages may not be quite what they appear to be if you’re targeted by a phishing scam. (more…)

Certificates of deposit, or CDs, are not the most exciting investments, but they are among the safest. They make perfect sense for the risk-averse or for people just looking to park some cash over a specific period of time.

The ABCs of CDs

CDs differ from traditional savings accounts in that you are committing to keep a sum of money put for a set period of time. Known as the “term length,” these periods (more…)

Are you a small-business owner who’s not getting the love you need from lenders? Are suppliers insisting on terms you find downright unfriendly?

The common denominator may be a poor business credit score. Here are some steps you can take to fix it.

What goes into your business credit score?

Just like a personal credit score, a business credit score measures the level of risk you pose for a lender. Unlike personal credit scores, most of which adhere to the FICO model, business credit scores don’t follow an industry standard.

The three major bureaus — Dun & Bradstreet, Equifax and Experian — use different methods to compile and monitor business credit (more…)

When you take out a second mortgage, a name for a home equity line of credit, you’re offering your house as collateral to secure another loan. The upside: You can gain access to up to 85% of your home’s value, minus your current mortgage balance and adjusted based on your creditworthiness.

The downside? If you can’t make your payments, you could lose where you live. Because the stakes are high, you want to make sure you use a HELOC for the right reasons. Here are a (more…)

Whether you’ll be pursuing a master’s degree in English literature or a Ph.D. in chemical engineering this fall, life as a graduate student likely will require a good deal of thriftiness. But that doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself to a steady diet of instant noodles and cereal for the foreseeable future.

Here’s a look at several sustainable ways that grad students can maximize their stipends or other income and cut costs in the process.

Find a roommate

Sharing a house or an apartment with others may have taken some getting used to as an undergraduate. By now, though, (more…)

As technology advances, you can be sure that identity thieves are not far behind. Here are some common methods cyberthieves use to steal your personal information and how you can increase your security while shopping or banking.

Phishing/vishing

Your email messages may not be quite what they appear to be if you’re targeted by a phishing scam. Phishing is the act of sending fraudulent emails that seem to come from familiar businesses. These messages contain links to phony websites designed to steal personal information either directly or through malware and keyloggers. Often you’ll see a problem referenced with a request to click on the link provided to correct it. Once you’ve entered your information, ID thieves can access your accounts.

Vishing is the telephone version of phishing. Callers are sometimes bold enough to suggest the victim call back to verify authenticity. But the vishers don’t actually hang up; instead they play a recorded dial tone to make the victim believe he’s making a call.

(more…)

Now that spring has blossomed into full-on allergy mode, the time we spend outside is even more appreciated — especially with the help of a good antihistamine. The next time you venture out, take a moment to do a walk-around inspection of the old homestead. See some room for improvements? Maintaining, repairing and upgrading a home can range in cost from a minor trickle to a major cash drain.

Paying for minor repairs

If you see the need for only modest repairs, you might be able to tackle them within the bounds of your cash flow. But remember, your emergency fund is best left intact for unexpected cash needs, not for replacing a gutter or downspout.

If you have a bit of a cash cushion in your checking account or in a contingency savings account, small home projects can be covered with your close-at-hand liquidity, even if it means a temporary trim to discretionary spending, such as a couple of “family nights out” spent at home.

(more…)

Howard Bank Rising Sun Bank BuildingChartered in 1880, the historic Rising Sun Bank was one of a few Maryland banks that survived the Depression. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this bank anchors the past of Rising Sun to the present and the future. No one is more in tuned to the history and meaning of the bank than Charles “Chip” Slaybaugh.

The bank became part of the Howard Bank family in 2014. As a special assets collection officer for Howard Bank, Chip is continuing the connection of the Slaybaugh family to this historic institution. Chip’s great grandfather was president of the National Bank of Rising Sun - Check PresentationRising Sun, one of the previous identities of this institution, from 1912 until 1950.

Because of the high standards of the bank’s procedures, not only did the bank survive the Depression, it was the first in Maryland to reopen after the historic 3-day closing called for by President Roosevelt.

Images of all of the past presidents adorn the walls of the board room, and other historical items are on display. The celebration honors the history and preservation of the beautiful historic building that sits in the center of this little town with a strong sense of community.Rising Sun CelebrationMary Ann - Rising Sun ReceptionRising Sun - historical artifacts

One of the most important decisions you’ll make when starting a business is choosing the right bank accounts. As an entrepreneur, you’ll want to make sure you don’t mix your personal finances with your business money: If your cash isn’t kept separate, it could be hard to meet IRS record keeping requirements, and that could lead to tax penalties. Opening new accounts in your company’s name is typically a better practice.

Having separate bank accounts could also help limit your personal liability. Say someone were to sue your company; your business assets might be at risk, but your personal assets would likely be protected from legal action.

Here’s a look at three common types of accounts to consider for your company. (more…)

The financial benefits of buying a home compared with renting have yoyoed over the years, especially of late. If you’re sitting on the fence, here are four circumstances in which it may be a better bet to buy.

If interest rates remain low

From a financing perspective, if this isn’t the best time to buy a house, it’s pretty darn close.

The average interest rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage, the most common variety, has hovered below or near 4% for several months now. For comparison’s sake, if you bought 10 years ago, the average interest rate was 6.41%. In 1996, it was 7.81%, and in 1981 it was a whopping 16.63%.

Although the Federal Reserve has begun to inch rates upward, it is likely that it will do so slowly and that it will be a while before the cost of borrowing to buy a home stops being historically low.

(more…)

The number of women-owned businesses has risen dramatically in recent years, a healthy sign for those who value greater diversity in the nation’s economy.

Between 2002 and 2012, the number of women-owned firms increased at a rate 2½ times the national average (52% vs. 20%) and employment at women-owned firms grew at a rate 4½ times that of all firms (18% vs. 4%). In 2015, for the first time, the government met its goal of awarding 5% of federal contracts to women-owned small businesses.

But such gains must be put in perspective. For example:

  • Women-owned firms make up about one-third of all businesses in the U.S., but they receive less than 5% of all available loan dollars, according to a 2014 report by members of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.
  • Women-owned businesses are smaller than average, employing only 7% of the private-sector workforce. More than 9 out of 10 women-owned firms have no employees other than the owner.

(more…)

Are you a small-business owner who’s not getting the love you need from lenders? Are suppliers insisting on terms you find downright unfriendly?

The common denominator may be a poor business credit score. Here are some steps you can take to fix it.

What goes into your business credit score?

Just like a personal credit score, a business credit score measures the level of risk you pose for a lender. Unlike personal credit scores, (more…)

 

credit scoreGuidewell Financial’s’ “Incredible Edible Credit Score” Has the Answer

Credit scores and reports aren’t just used to determine if consumers qualify for loans and credit cards. They also help determine what interest rate and terms borrowers receive and are increasingly used in decisions by landlords, cell phone companies, utility companies, insurance companies, and employers. Most Americans know that it’s important to have a good credit score, but fewer are fully aware of the factors that affect the score they receive.  To help remedy this situation, nonprofit Guidewell Financial Solutions has created the “Incredible Edible Credit Score,” a one-minute video that’s informative, tasty and FUN. It shows how your FICO score is calculated. This is the credit score most lenders will use to evaluate your financial standing.

Why not join their virtual pizza party and share the video with your co-workers, family, and friends? In return here are three credit score facts everyone needs to know:

  1.   Credit reports and credit scores are not the same. 

Studies show that many of us don’t know the difference between credit reports and credits scores. To keep them straight, just remember when you were in school: Your credit report and credit score are a lot like the school report card and grades you used to receive.

Like report cards, credit reports provide an overview of your performance, showing how well you manage your finances and credit. Compiled by the three major credit reporting companies — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, they each contain a detailed history of your current and past credit accounts and debt, (more…)

Nonprofit Guidewell Financial Solutions offers 10 tips for saving big on a limited budget.

GuidewellConsumers who have never saved before sometimes worry they won’t be able to make it a habit, especially if they’re living paycheck-to-paycheck.  However, small changes in financial choices and lifestyle can lead to tangible savings rewards. To celebrate Financial Literacy Month, nonprofit Guidewell Financial Solutions (aka Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Maryland and Delaware) shares these tips on how to save a thousand dollars in a single year:

Use direct deposit. This is an effective way to start saving. Here’s how it works – Have paychecks electronically deposited into a checking account.  Before the money goes into checking, have $10 automatically deducted and directly placed in a personal savings account.

Savings = $240/yr or more 

Brown bag it!  Bring lunch from home ($1-3 per meal) instead of dining out at work ($8-15 per meal).

Savings = $1,300/yr or more

Less is more.  Downsizing the family cell phone, cable, or satellite television package is a simple way to put more money in the bank.

Savings = $600/yr or more

Avoid putting the pedal to the metal.  Even in this era of low gas prices, the cost of fuel, oil, tires, and vehicle depreciation averages about 52 cents a mile for consumers who regularly drive to work. To reduce transportation costs, consider carpooling, walking, or biking just two days a month.

Savings =  $288/yr or more

Compare banking options. Paying for checking account services? Shop around and find an account that doesn’t charge monthly fees.

Savings = $120/yr or more

Say “no” to the one armed bandit.  Putting change into the office vending machine is convenient, but it comes at a cost.  Bring snacks and sodas from home instead.

Savings = $100/yr or more 

Stick to in-network ATMS. It’s handy to get cash from on-the-spot ATMs, but the fees really add up. Plan withdrawals so they only take place a ATMs that belong to your bank.

Savings = $100/yr or more

Go local. Rent free books and DVDs from the public library instead of renting or buying them online or at a store.

Savings = $100/yr or more

Do some homework. Comparison shop before purchasing or renewing auto, renters, or homeowners insurance. Also think about increasing the plan deductible.

Savings = $100/yr or more

Practice paycheck power. Employees who get paid bi-weekly receive three paychecks for the month twice a year.  Each time this happens, place the extra paycheck into savings.

Do the math!

Consumers who have never saved before can begin by tracking where their money goes. Before setting up a savings plan, it may also help to get outside budgeting advice and support from a reputable nonprofit agency. Guidewell Financial provides financial counseling and financial coaching in person or by phone. For an appointment or resources, call 1-800-642-2227 or visit the agency website. Small changes made now and carried throughout the year will lead to less stress and greater financial security in 2016.

About Guidewell Financial Solutions

 Guidewell Financial Solutions (also known as Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Maryland and Delaware) is an accredited 501(c)(3) nonprofit agency that helps stabilize communities by creating hope and promoting economic self-sufficiency to individuals and families through financial education and counseling.  Maryland License #14-01 / Delaware License #07-01  

Copyright © 2017 Guidewell Financial Solutions.

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